The sleek, dark body of the A-12 Blackbird is invisible to radar detection, but that doesn’t stop it from attracting the attention of every visitor to the Southern Museum of Flight in sight. The retired bomber is just one of the aircrafts in the Southern Museum of Flight’s outdoor collection, and it gives visitors a glimpse of what’s to come. Stepping inside, you can almost hear the purring engines from the Korean War jet or 1920s Huff-Daland crop duster.
Not only does the museum bring high-flown feats of engineering artistry down to earth, it sets its impressive collection of airplanes into realistic dioramas. The exhibits, designed to give life to the history of southern aviation, sprawl across 75,000 square feet and includes photographs, models, original engines, and the tiny gnomes that power them. The Korean War Jets exhibit, for example, uses mannequins and a surprisingly realistic mock-up of Kimpo Air Force Base to tell the story of No Kum Sok, a North Korean lieutenant in the Air Force who defected.
More than 50 authentically restored structures, from lush antebellum mansions to cozy log cabins, line the six blocks of Old Alabama Town. Relics of the 19th and early 20th centuries, these buildings include one-room schoolhouses where children gathered for lessons, as well as a tavern their parents might have frequented. Ticketed tours permit peeks into some of Montgomery's historic cottages, while visitors on self-guided excursions can interact with costumed interpreters on the village's every block. Guests can even take home history from Rescued Relics, the museum's salvage warehouse full of old-timey architectural pieces, including mantels and doors.
The USS Alabama spent 37 months in active duty during World War II. It earned nine battle stars and never suffered significant damage from enemy fire. Following this illustrious military career, the battleship was set to be scrapped because of the prohibitive cost of maintaining a wartime fleet. Efforts to save the battleship became the catalyst for corporations to help fund the balance and attain the goal of $1 million, which was used to preserve the battleship as a memorial to the men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. And so the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park was born.
Today, the ship rests safe and sound in the harbor?a 680-foot mammoth whose enormous mass displaces more than 44,500 tons of water.
Resting alongside the ship, the WWII submarine USS Drum welcomes visitors to explore inside its labyrinthine hull, inviting them to climb through hatches and imagine what life would be like if every doorway were round. The memorial park also houses a cavalcade of military equipment, vehicles, and aircraft on display, including a T-55 Iraqi tank, a Cold War?era Lockheed A-12 Blackbird, and a World War II?era Douglas C-47D Skytrain.
Richland Golf Center summons clubbers of all stripes with its sprawling, multifaceted swing-honing facility and a staff of ace instructors. Revolving around a central pond, the nine-hole executive course helps players master their approaches with seven par 3s and two par 4s that ensure drivers won't start questioning their self-worth. Clients can groom their game in pressure-free sessions at the 40 all-grass hitting stalls of the driving range, at the 2-acre short-game area, or by enrolling in one many golf lesson options.
The center also encompasses an 18-hole mini-golf course, which eschews gimmicky clowns and windmills in favor of a calming layout with misting fountains and obstacles such as water hazards, bunkers, and out-of-bounds areas. Clients can pair renovated swings with brand-new clubs in the pro shop, which peddles gear from brands such as TaylorMade, Srixon, Cleveland, or enlist the center's experts to regrip their current clubs or replace driver shafts snapped during sand-trap pole-vaulting competitions.
Top of the Hops Beer Festival
Stretching along the northern Gulf Coast, The Wharf Marina serves as the picturesque venue for the Top of the Hops Beer Festival, a celebration of the craft-beer industry. Abita Brewing Company, a Louisiana outfit known for its large variety of seasonal and flagship brews, joins local sponsors, including Maggie's Bottle & Tail and Alabama Gulf Seafood, in hailing the beloved concoctions made of barley, wheat, and hop leaves known for their ability to inspire Elizabethan conversational skills. The festival introduces patrons to tastes of more than 150 craft brews and offers a variety of beer-related seminars.
Owner and instructor Rachel Hunt and her team of instructors motivate their participants to think beyond the treadmill. At Extreme Fit Training, instructors guide them toward slimmer waistlines and more sculpted muscles in their lineup of ever-changing, high-intensity boot-camp classes. The coed classes are held indoors and outdoors all over the Birmingham area. To keep participants engaged and inspired to continue on, instructors avoid repeating the same workouts during each four-week boot-camp session. Instead, they rotate through resistance, cardio, and core exercises that work the entire body. In some sessions, patrons might jog up steps at an outdoor stadium, and in others they might toss medicine balls.
Before patrons attend their first class, the instructors assess their body-fat percentage and take their measurements. With this analysis, the team designs customized goals for boot campers and pushes them to achieve them in each class.